In spring last year, Ross Golding was sitting in his garden in Nevada sipping a gin and tonic when he decided to buy a yacht and sail around the world.
Golding had owned several yachts before and made coastal passages between Mexico and British Columbia, but his passion was his work. The idea of sailing round the world had been “sort of at the back of my mind as a great experience, but raising a family and working 80 hours a week doesn’t lend itself to that.”
The unfolding pandemic in 2020 prompted Golding to look at life differently, and specifically at what he wanted to achieve beyond his goals as a doctor and businessman. “I sat there and wondered: what am I going to do? I need something to replace work. I need a new passion.”
Within a month, Golding had scouted suitable yachts, weighed up several different makes, and opted to buy a new Oyster 565. At the same time, he decided to join the Oyster World Rally leaving late in 2021 to circumnavigate via the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.
“I made the decision so fast it shocked folks,” he says. “I looked at the cost of used boats but they can come with a bunch of skeletons in their cupboard and I didn’t want to deal with that. I’m not by nature a tinkerer and I didn’t want to do repairs. I wanted a boat that was reliable, a centre cockpit boat, something that had a true modern hull form. When I looked at the Oyster 565 I fell in love with it.”
The Oyster 565 is a new Rob Humphreys design with a long waterline length, generous hull volume and twin rudders. Buying new means Golding will have a yacht that is seakindly while also being crisply contemporary, nimble and capable of quick passages. “The new design is an awesome sailing machine,” he says.
Golding’s new yacht, named Infinity, will be launched this summer, a little over a year after his gin and tonic epiphany. Infinity will be equipped exactly to his requirements and will be bristling with all the latest technology and gear, chosen or tailor-made so that he and his family and friends can sail long distances efficiently, safely and comfortably.
When Joe Leitch and his wife decided to sail round the world in the Oyster World Rally in 2017, they sold their Oyster 575 and bought a new Oyster 725. Leitch had many years of sailing experience but didn’t consider himself an expert and wanted a captain and crew to take charge of the running the boat. The larger Oyster would have the space needed for a crew and more comforts.
Leitch believes that buying and building a new yacht was the best choice. “I recommend sailing round the world any way you can do it,” he comments. “You can do it on a 40ft boat you bought used, but we felt more comfortable on a new Oyster and the Oyster World Rally gave us fantastic support.
“It is not an inexpensive process any way you look at it,” he says, “but I bought an Oyster because I think it will last forever if you take care of it.”
A new Oyster comes with the reassurance of warranties, the latest equipment and the promise of strong residual values when the time comes to sell. From the outset of a build, all new owners are teamed up with a dedicated project manager who is hugely experienced in their own right and understands what is needed to sail round the world. They are always on hand to help choose or discuss options on everything from the sail plan to sun shades.
This process can be one of the most exciting and satisfying aspects of any sailing project.
"You can build your boat like you want it,” says Joe Leitch. “For me as an engineer, one of the things I had most fun with was going through the whole specification. We could visit the yard as many times as we wanted. We really enjoyed meeting the people who were actually building it, the carpenters and electricians.
“The craftsmanship on things like the cabinet doors and the tables is really quite incredible. It amazed me to see that every cable has got a number on it and if you need to trace a wire you can go back and see which one it is.”
Richard Gibson, Oyster Yachts’ Sales Director, explains: “The beauty of buying a semi-custom yacht from Oyster is being able to build something exactly to your own tastes and requirements. You choose the wood finish, upholstery style, layout and equipment spec that best suits you and your sailing plans.
“You’re buying the latest model, with better performance, better storage, all the warranties, and a world rally can be baked into the plans. You can have the newest equipment specced specifically for your plans, such as electronics or hydrogenerators, rather than taking someone else’s choice. And you get amazing customer support whatever boat you have.”
Most owners also find that the deep knowledge they gain from a new build pays huge dividends later on.
“To sail round the world you need to know your boat inside out and seeing it being built and how it works – where the pipe runs are, the wiring runs, how the boat fits together – is invaluable,” Richard Gibson points out.
“Owners really enjoy that experience of working with a project manager to make sure the boat is going to match their plans, and if you have a crew – and generally all yachts over 70ft will have a crew – you can bring them into the build programme.”
Swedish businessman Eric Alfredson bought an Oyster 575 for the Oyster World Rally in 2017. A very experienced boat owner who now has seven Atlantic crossings to his credit, Alfredson had firm ideas about what he needed on his new yacht. He agrees that buying a new semi-custom yacht presents a unique opportunity.
“We had had an Oyster 53 and made an Atlantic circuit in it in 2010, but we decided to get a slightly bigger boat and saw the 575. It was our ideal boat. I had never bought a new boat before but I had always in my life dreamed of it, of choosing everything, all the equipment – and of taking the plastic covers off the seating!”
He, too, emphasises what a great opportunity it is to be involved at every stage of the build. “You have to be hands on, be present,” he advises. “Always there some things we could choose between. We chose a crew cabin and workshop layout, and I was very pleased with that. We had different seating, and a vanity unit in owner’s cabin instead of a sofa. We had a stern thruster, which was very useful.
“We went to the yard quite often through the build and we understood the boat better. The project manager was very good – and I have had many, many boats.”
Once a new boat is launched, owners have the benefit of a comprehensive commissioning service. A team from Oyster will sail with you and help you use your yacht in precisely the way you want. They can help with sail set up and show how to get the most from your yacht’s performance and safe handling.
When Andrew and Sussanne Lock bought their Oyster 54 for the 2013 Oyster World Rally, Sussanne recalls being “a reluctant accomplice” in the adventure, and she admits that sailing was quietly “a dutiful ordeal”. That began to change after their yacht Pearl of Persia was launched. Oyster Yachts’s customer support maestro, Eddie Scougall, came to offer help and support, and made a fateful suggestion.
“Eddie came on board to make sure everything was running smoothly, and while he was on board he said: ‘Have you signed up for the Oyster World Rally? Because if you haven’t you really need to hurry; it’s filling up fast’,” remembers Sussanne.
The expertise of a team from Oyster came into play again later, when the Locks reached the Mediterranean. Oyster put a crew together for them to race in the Oyster Palma Regatta. “We had never done any racing before, and we raced this boat like I’d never sailed it,” Sussanne says.
“We had professional sailors who really knew how they could push the boat to its limits and I felt completely safe. It really boosted our confidence. After that weekend all my fear had disappeared and I thought, we can heel over and the boat will jump back up again. This is doable.”
That was just the beginning of the Locks taking on the world together, just the two of them. Their story is quite an odyssey, and soon to be published in a book written by Sussanne.
“If you’d told me 10 years ago I would sail round the world I would laughed in your face,” she says. “But if I had missed this, I would have kicked myself. The experience is one I would recommend to anybody.”